Graphic Novel Review: Guardian of Fukushima by Fabien Grolleau, illustrated by Ewen Blain
Posted on April 27, 2023 at 6:24 am by Gene Ambaum
Guardian of Fukushima by Fabien Grolleau, illustrated by Ewen Blain. Foreward by Roland Kelts. Translated by Jenna Martin. Tokyopop, 2023. 9781427871367. Includes an interview with Grolleau and Blain plus information about and photos of Naoto Matsumura and the March 11, 2011, tsunami and its aftermath.
When I saw Grolleau’s name on this book, I knew I had to read it — I loved his graphic novels on Audobon and Darwin, and the cover of this looked fantastic, with its sea dragon in the tsunami. This is artist Ewen Blain’s first book, and after seeing his bright, beautiful illustrations I’m reading any book he draws.
This is the story of Naoto Matsumura, who refused to evacuate the area near the Fukushima nuclear plant so that he could care for the animals left behind. It contains a lot that clearly is true — details about Matsumura, his parents, and his nephew remaining in their home for days after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami until they were finally evacuated, and the problems that they faced thereafter, including that some family members didn’t want to take them in for fear of radioactive contamination. After the others are safe Matsumura returns to his home to care for his family’s animals, and others that he finds in the area as well. Japanese mythology is woven throughout the narrative; my favorite parts involve the origin of earthquakes and the heartbreaking moment when supernatural creatures appear to Matsumura to ask for his help, too.
The book ends with Matsumura speaking out and demonstrating against nuclear power, along with a touching moment about an unexpected, personal result of what he’s been up to.